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Mission Hills Walking Tour

By Allen Hazard

Tourgoers in line for the Walking Tour; another tour was added for the next day after Saturday's tour quickly sold out.


Over 200 people showed up on a beautiful late January afternoon in Mission Hills for an engaging walking tour through the three proposed historic districts. The event was a sell-out and a second tour was quickly added for the next day (Super Bowl Sunday). Some people still had to be turned away!

Espresso Mio provided the walkers with bottled water and we were off to tour beautiful Craftsman, Prairie, Spanish Revival and other great historic homes in one of San Diego's finest older neighborhoods. As we walked on graceful streets lush with Kate Sessions's plantings, walkers learned to identify Nathan Rigdon Prairie-style homes ("Mission Hills boxes") and learned how prolific builder Morris Irvin contributed 125 beautiful homes over a twenty-year period. Walkers saw homes by such renowned architects and builders as William Hebbard, Frank Allen, Richard Requa, David Owen Dryden and Emmor Brooke Weaver. Tour participants also learned about some of the leading families and individuals who lived and built in Mission Hills in the early 20th century. Captain Thomas Rynning was one person discussed. He was a great frontiersman, Indian fighter, Rough Rider and close friend of Teddy Roosevelt. Another civic leader mentioned was master of funny road signs, R.E. "Pappy" Hazard. The tour walkers heard that Mission Hills was home to many important cultural icons, including Augusta Flintom who sang at the 1915 Panama California Exposition opening. We heard an interesting "urban legend" or two such as where Lana Turner and Jeff Chandler might have spent their wedding night and where Duke Ellington might have celebrated and entertained on his birthday.

There were even a few surprises along the way, such as viewing a quaint English garden backyard and a canyon backyard behind an incredible Emmor Brooke Weaver home. The walking tour highlighted restoration and the importance of preserving one of San Diego's oldest neighborhoods. All the docents were members of their respective proposed historic districts and this proved to be truly an insider walking tour. Homeowners contributed greatly to the facts and fiction that gave us a glimpse into this unique and historic community.

The walking tour will be given again on April 24th, rain or shine. The tour will start at Espresso Mio (1920 Fort Stockton Drive) at noon. Tours will depart every 30 minutes beginning at noon, with the last tour leaving at 2.00pm. Tickets may be purchased the day of the event. The cost is $10 for SOHO members and $15 for non-SOHO members. There may even be a few surprises on this tour! This walk benefits the Sunset proposed district and SOHO general fund.

For more information regarding the historic districts in Mission Hills as well as other areas of San Diego, please follow the links at sohosandiego.org/resources/historicdistricts.htm.

2004 - Volume 35, Issue 2

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